The Dark Irony of the Tolerant

The tolerant are so intolerant these days.

They cry for peace while throwing darts of flaming anger. They preach against hate as they practice it faithfully. They only defend those who subscribe to their opinions. They scream for inclusion as they ostracize others. They call others bullies as they attack those who have different beliefs and opinions. They use the First Amendment to defend their “hate speech,” the very thing they say they’re violently against. They expect others to walk on eggshells as they wear lead shoes. They must be heard at all times, though they silence and shut down others. They fear for tyranny, though they are the oppressors.

I’m afraid the open-minded are stuck in a closed box.

Peace is better than war, and love should reign over hate, but the battle is waging in our own living rooms now.

How you choose to act toward family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and strangers is up to you, but no matter where you lean politically, wouldn’t it be better to emulate the very traits you say you want to see practiced by others?

I’m not writing this to start a fight, so please, lay down your weapons.

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Blessed are the Afflicted (no, I’m not being sarcastic)

If you’re one of those people who have never experienced allergies, who haven’t had to go on antibiotics hundreds of times, who don’t seem to have an Achilles’ heal with anything health-wise, who can sit in smoke from a bonfire without having an asthma attack, who can sleep with a cat resting beneath your chin and not die, who can sleep in a room that had a cat in it 40 years ago and not die, who can seemingly eat tire rubber and digest it without a problem, it’s likely you may fail to compassionately understand the situations of those who suffer daily from illnesses, allergies and conditions because you can’t even remotely fathom what they’re going through. It’s not that you’re a mean-spirited person. You just can’t imagine walking in shoes that send electric pains up your leg and into your butt.

Let me tell you from firsthand experience: With comments and attitudes received from people and nasty thoughts from yourself, it’s easy to allow yourself to feel disabled, in many ways—like you’re the one who’s holding everyone back because of your “special needs.”

It’s easy to view yourself as the wettest blanket this side of the rain forest and the biggest pain someone’s ever felt. It hurts your pride to have to ask for “special accommodations.” You often feel like a social pariah or an unintentional attention hog. In other words, it’s easy to feel discouraged and depressed, held back by innumerable things you can’t control, though you try to manage them as independently and as best as you can.

You may awkwardly attempt to throw on an air of positivity when you just want to hide in the corner. You may have become a hermit because it seems like the best option. You may want to be “normal” and just eat pizza like the rest of the bunch, bury your face in the fur of a dog, hike all day, and gorge on one of the flippin’ donuts your coworkers always bring to meetings, without being held back by physical limitations. You may even question your worth and value because society regularly treats you like you’re the pathetic, deathly plague of the party.

Believe it or not, the physically afflicted actually have an advantage over others. Having such obvious constraints makes it way easier to understand your self-reliance is misplaced and your self-esteem needs to be grounded in something far deeper and more powerful than yourself.

One biblical truth that has carried me through years of on-and-off again anxiety, discouragement and depression during near-death experiences, chronic pain and ongoing illnesses is how God often uses people who are viewed as weak. Now, why would he choose the people with noticeable limitations to carry out his plans?

Whether we’re reminded of how he chose David, the runt of the litter, to kill Goliath and become the king of Israel, or Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brood of jealous brothers, wrongly accused of rape and put into jail, the Bible tells us how God used their less-than-savory situations and what they and others lacked to showcase his majesty and might, loving kindness and sovereignty.

graceIf you’re having a down day, remember this: Your worth is not found in what you can or cannot do right now, what you wish you could do and currently can’t, and whether you can eat bread, butter and beans or not. Your worth is precious and priceless to the one who created you—your father in Heaven. You are treasured. You are loved.

You are also called to be proactive in both a simple and difficult manner. Release your clenched fists and give up your pent-up anger, frustrations, fears, and the illusion of your control to God himself. He can handle everything. You can’t. You need help. I know I do.

Fight the good fight by applying his truths to your life and by believing that he truly does love you—warts, welts, scars and all. Equip yourself with the armor of God daily. Surround yourself with scripture. Have faith that his plans are the best plans. And bring joy and encouragement to others. Since God is hope, we have no reason to lose it because he is always walking by our side and living within our hearts.

You are not your disease or affliction. It is merely a means by which God’s power can more effectively and magnificently reach others and yourself, if you allow him to write your story. You never know what plans God has in store, so trust him, give him control, obey him, and thank him for all the blessings he’s given you. It’s a moment-by-moment decision, and some of the most important decisions we can make.

While you’re resting in Jesus’ love and the hope found in him alone, be grateful for and enjoy the things you can presently experience. Don’t wait to have dreams, to have fun, to love others, to laugh and to live until your life seems up to standards. Live now, live well, and show others God’s grace with a joyful confidence in his abilities.

Psalm 40:1-3

waited patiently for the Lord;

    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Being Bold: A Rambling of Reminders

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Bold, strong and courageous: attributes that haven’t described me lately. I’ve felt like a disappointment and a problem on so many levels, even when I don’t have the power to change circumstances. When it rains it pours, and it’s been hailing, too.

I haven’t been able to “fix” anything by my own devices or efforts. This is another example of how the whole “believe in yourself” mantra, sponsored by the Disney channel, doesn’t cut it.

We may think we aren’t buying into that message, the idol of self-sufficiency, until we start breaking, pieces of ourselves falling to the ground for all to see.

During these drained, exposed moments, where it seems like we can’t do anything right and we don’t know whether to cry or laugh like a maniac, God is there, waiting to fill us up again with peace and strength. Unfortunately, we are so good at digging ourselves into a hole and looking down at our problems, it takes awhile to finally look up for hope and help.

It’s all too easy to cross the line and become arrogant and bitter when we’re bold on our own. It’s inevitable that we’ll crack when we rely on our own strength to carry every hardship stacked one on top of another. And when we’re isolating ourselves from God’s power, fears will overtake us.

Whenever we’re going through difficult seasons and disappointment, as Christians, our first response in words may be to say, “Trust in God” or “Rely on God,” but putting it into practice takes a lot more faith. It requires an action on our part. We must make the decision. We must ask for the faith that is required, and we need to be persistent.

lionTruly trusting God means giving Him the outcome. It means giving our hopes, our dreams, our lives to His purposes and plans. It means giving up control over what we really had no control over in the first place. And it means realizing even an iota of our worth in His eyes, even when we feel completely undeserving, inadequate and alone.

There can be a sense of misplaced fear in giving God absolute control. We know He’ll take us outside of our comfort zone. We know our course will probably change somewhere along the road, and the unfamiliarity of His path may scare us because we know He won’t always give us directions ahead of time. He’ll give them to us when we need them.

We often foolishly wish God would use the old Burger King slogan as the approach toward our lives: “Have it your way.” For many idiotic reasons, we want to depend upon ourselves. The unpredictability of life and our own sinful natures should be adequate enough teachers in showing us how stupid that is, and yet we continue trying to find our own way in the fog.

With white knuckles, we grip on to our perceptions of how life should go, what we should be, and how others should act, and when tragedy, disease, or some other devastation strikes, we get angry. It seems unfair. It seems cruel. It seems out of control.

A grand majority of the time, we don’t want to learn the lessons He knows we need to be taught through trials and the realization of our own limitations and needs. We may want the refined qualities He’s instilling in us, the finished products, but we don’t want to go through the processes it takes to get them. Ironically, we want to become a patient person without having to wait; we want to be a loving person without having to love those who don’t seem to deserve it; and we want to be Christ-like without having to face any opposition.

The thing about giving every aspect of our lives to Jesus is that He won’t disappoint. We will disappoint others and ourselves, and others will disappoint us, but God does not. He is always working toward the ultimate good, even when He’s allowing us to go through pain. After all, our ultimate good means we’re becoming more like Him.

He is not a tame God, by any means. He is mysterious, and He doesn’t have to explain anything. But He is also our Father, the lover of our souls, our merciful, gracious and loving Lord. He is our protector and healer, and He is the source of pure boldness, goodness, courage and might.

When we depend on God for power, provision and direction and expect great things from Him, the pressure begins to lift and new life is breathed into our souls, purifying our motives, hearts and minds. Our situations may not immediately change, but He helps us carry the burden and gives us the renewed strength we need.

He is the one who turns death into life, broken dreams into new purpose, and bleak circumstances into cause for celebration. When we remind ourselves of this, it’s a lot easier to say, “Have it your way, Lord.”

Psalm 16:8
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 

The Intrinsic Need for Expectations and Expecting More from God

Lamentations 3:22-26
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. 

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the Lord and He heard my cry, freeing me from all my fears.

 

The Intrinsic Need for Expectations and Expecting More from God

There you are. You’ve been let down again, perhaps by a spouse who hasn’t really changed, or a friend who always cancels, or maybe you just did the very thing you said you’d never do again. Whatever the situation is, you had hope that things would occur, alter or stop, and when your expectations weren’t met, your pain began tempting you to think you never should have imagined it could be different.

One of the many emotions we all have and will experience is disappointment, a feeling produced by unfulfilled expectations. We hate to be disappointed and we hate to be disappointments ourselves.

At some point during our rocky journey, some sage typically comes along (and it’s always someone who has had their fill of disappointments, as well) and tells us to lower our expectations or to have none at all. For surely, if we don’t have any expectations, there won’t be any disappointments springing up from unmet expectations. We can be conditioned to expect the worst, and when the worst doesn’t come, we’re glad.

After many years of disappointments and feeling like a disappointment, I began to adopt that mentality. I was only in high school. I realized it was probably a cynical and apathetic mental practice to take on, but I was tired of having even the smallest of hopes crushed, leaving me to look like a fool. I thought it was a wise decision. After all, if you don’t have expectations of others, how can you be hurt?

There’s a problem with this apathetic nature. Many feel as though they can keep giving without getting and fulfilling others’ expectations of them without having any expectations of others, but that’s not how we’re wired. We’re not intended to only be islands of service.

What I, at the time, and so many others don’t realize is that we have an intrinsic need to expect things of others and ourselves. You cannot have a relationship with anyone, be it as simple as a friendship where you meet up once a year for coffee, without having some sort of expectation. You expect them to show up. You expect that you’ll have at least an adequate time. You may even enjoy it thoroughly. Otherwise, neither of you would bother to meet up in the first place.

The thing is, expectations can translate into hopes. If you’re a Christian, you claim to be serving the God of all hope. He is hope incarnate. And when it boils down to it, you cannot have joy without hope. They’re inseparable because God is also joy. So if expectations are also hopes and God is hope, that means we should have expectations of God. That’s right. That’s what I said.

Some may think that’s an insolently bold statement, but we are encouraged to have faith, and faith means having the expectation that God will carry out the plans He has promised in His Word.

With all that being said, I would like to draw attention to us Christians, those who have grown up in the church, those who have just started learning about the Bible and the Lord, those who have made hotdishes for church potlucks for the past 21 years, those who don’t know what a hotdish is, and those who take their car in every Saturday to get washed so it’s clean on Sunday.

We expect not, so we ask not, and since we ask not, we are not given. In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

The God of the universe is telling us to ask and wait expectantly. No, God is not a vending machine or a genie, but when we ask God to use the desires we believe He has given us in our hearts to carry out His will with our lives, we can be sure He will reward our faith and trust in Him.

Psalm 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

The whole “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be” approach isn’t good enough. In Zephaniah 1:12, the Lord told Zephaniah that “it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who settle in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will do no good, nor will He do evil.’”

I’ve heard so many Christians say that God will do what He will do, that if it’s meant to be (insert something you’re waiting for) will happen. Many won’t even encourage you to pray about it and seek the Lord. They just tell you that what will happen will happen and the way it’s supposed to be will just occur naturally. And when it comes to miraculous healings – don’t even… just stop. The lack of faith is astounding compared to the biblical faith we’ve read about. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve so often taken the same lackluster and faithless approach in my relationship with God.

But having faith means taking risks sometimes, to even look a little foolish in our childlike trust. We are told to come boldly to the throne of God and seek His grace. We’re not supposed to take an apathetic approach and just ask for nothing from our Lord. If Abraham hadn’t asked the Lord to save Lot and his family, they would have been completely wiped out along with the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah. God does bend down to listen to our cries. Yes, He knows the future and what will happen, but He also knows who will ask Him fervently for help during their times of distress.

It’s easy for us to box in God’s power and designate it to an episode of the 700 Club on TBN. It’s not real to us because we haven’t noticed the smaller miracles in our own lives. We call it serendipity or coincidence. Because we don’t notice the smaller ways in which God is working every day, we don’t expect God to miraculously change our lives in much larger, undeniable ways.

We are to expect great things from the Lord because He is good and He wants us to trust Him to work in our lives, in our families, in our nation, in our world, all for His glory.

Psalm 34:17-19
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Do we often get our own human version of what we want God to do in our lives mixed up with His actual will? Yes, all too often. But until we realize that God’s plans for our lives are so much better than any piddly thing we’d hoped for and imagined, we won’t truly trust Him. I’m in the process of letting that truth sink into my own way of thinking. It’s a hard habit to break. It’s difficult letting go and letting the Lord do what He will with our futures, especially when it seems as though we can’t get a break. It’s actually scary giving up any control, even when we realize we can’t truly control anything very well.

Believe me when I say that I know we frequently have too high of expectations for our fellow humans, but we can’t function without having some. When all others fail us, and when we fail others, we can always depend on God. He is the only constant.

We so often place our hope in things that will never meet or satisfy our needs. That is when disappointment sets in and tarnishes our hearts and outlook. We need to be sure we’re placing our ultimate hope in the One who can and will carry out what He has promised.

One of the hardest parts about having expectations, having faith is waiting because waiting for the good God wants to give and has planned for us in answer to our pleas is on God’s time, not ours. But take heart. Jesus never turned anyone away when they asked for healing or for forgiveness. Remind yourself of how merciful and loving He is every time you wonder if you can trust Him with your life. Wait on the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:3
For the vision is set for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Isaiah 63:7
I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us – yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

Psalm 40:1-5
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

You Aren’t All You Need

In an odd way, I feel bad for those who have somehow managed to get through life, thus far, without health scares, major financial stress and the like. They have no idea how fragile their self-reliance really is; they are not aware of how dependent they should be on God and God alone.

When your body and abilities are failing you, believing in yourself will only get you so far. When you are literally depending on God to provide each breath you take, you realize the fragility of your existence and the power of His mercy and love.

One look at a picture of earth from space should give us a bit of perspective that sticks with us, and yet our egos stay intact.

Trust me; you aren’t all you need.

Organic makeup: A plea for help

There are studies that say the average woman consumes 6-9 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, and many lipsticks contain lead. This is especially concerning for me because I am not the average woman. I may have already consumed 20 pounds of lip product in my first 25 years alone.

Since high school, lipstick has been smeared daily on my mouth. I would’ve worn it every day in elementary school, but Mumsie forbade me to do so as I was not a pageant toddler (thank you, Mom). However, one of my nicknames has always been Meggie Boo Boo (thanks again, Mom).

Do you ever have it happen where you know that in a few years, you will inevitably change your lifestyle in some drastic way that will involve pain and sadness? Well, this is how it’s been for me with makeup. It’s obvious, to some, that what you eat will have an effect on your body, for the good or the bad, and if you’re eating lipstick on a regular basis, take precautions. The same is unfortunately true of your exterior self. Your skin absorbs more than I’d like to realize, including the nasty chemicals found in other makeup, too.

That being said, the foreshadowing winds of change have finally thrown me up in the tornadic tunnel of realization, and the weight of the matter has guilted me into researching organic beauty products.

IMG_6267I’ll be honest with you; I’m a makeup junkie. Today, after I begrudgingly decided the time to act was now, I went without lipstick for a couple hours. Right before a meeting, I checked to make sure I didn’t have any stew on my face (thanks for the yummy food, Mom), only to see my naked, undefined lips. The lack of color disturbed my sensibilities. I dug through my purse knowing I wouldn’t find any organic, natural lip wear, besides my Burt’s Bees chapstick, but I pathetically scavenged. As the logic of my memory had already informed me, there was none to be had. I got 99 lipsticks, but an organic one — nope, not one.

Out of the eight lipsticks in my purse (I’m not joking), I looked at my Victoria’s Secret tube (in my favorite shade, “True”) and gazed at it. I then heard myself saying to me, “Just a little won’t hurt,” like a true makeup addict. Sure enough, I caved. This is going to be a long, hard, gravelly, rock-ridden road for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I regularly go without makeup — well, kind of often, sometimes — just to remind myself that my worth isn’t based on how much better my face looks with foundation, powder, blush, mascara, eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick — oh, and brow pencil. The last time I went makeup-less to work, someone walked in my office and questioned my identity.

As a natural strawberry blonde, my skin is light. My eyebrows and eyelashes are even lighter. They’re a honey shade that makes my face a blank canvas, excellent for experimenting with makeup, my paint of choice. I look like a Scandinavian 12-year-old without some art made on my face.

Needless to say, I would like the paint I use to be free of chemicals and lead. That’s not asking too much, is it?

If you have favorite organic, natural, gluten-free products, let me know. I’m on the prowl. Organic products aren’t cheap. They’re not in the price range of the clearance lipsticks I buy at Target, and they’re often more expensive than the yearly splurge I make at Merle Norman. That being said, I don’t want to buy the first thing I see, hoping it won’t look and feel like crap. I’m not made of money, and I don’t own a field of money trees.

I’m not interested in looking like a humanized piece of chalk or a tangelo, so please, let me know if you have any recommendations on organic foundations, specifically.

Life and beauty aren’t all about makeup. Makeup just makes life more vibrant and attractive. The daily purpose is to enhance the features God already gave you, adding to your put-together look and confidence. Help me find the best and most cost-effective organic makeup products, so I can highlight the eyelashes the Lord gave me and not scare my coworkers.

Let it be known that I will still gladly accept free makeup with a bittersweet heart from anyone, even if I save it for special occasions.

Land of the free, home of the enslaved

As humans and, especially, Americans, we get so caught up in “the pursuit of happiness,” and we hate to be inhibited, having anyone tell us no or get in the way.

We may be freer to pursue our desires, but we are not necessarily free from them. We can all be quite stupid, after all. We want what we want, and by always following that mentality, that desire for uninhibited, anything-goes “freedom,” we can dig ourselves into a pit.

The pursuit is just that — constantly searching for illusive happiness that we think will bring fulfillment.

I am inexpressibly thankful for all the freedoms I do enjoy in this country, but we get too caught up in self-entitlement and think freedom means having no constraints.

“Freedom,” as we define it, can be a double-edged sword. We need to, through prayer, God’s Word and the wisdom and discernment He gives us, evaluate whether what we deem as “freeing” is actually truly liberating or adding more links to our chains.

The Danger of Love

To love someone is a danger and a risk. They may throw you away at any moment. People are unpredictable and so often view others as expendable. In their eyes, your worth is equated to their selfish and temporary feelings of what you can add to their life.

Yet another reason why God’s commandment to love one another is not for the weak in spirit and heart. It’s an ongoing action, no matter the situation or how much time has elapsed. True love continues to love after hurt has already happened. Asking God to replace our bitterness with love is a necessity when pain is present.

What the world deems as “love” is so selfish, temporary. Unconditional love as God intended love to be has no expiration date, limitations or requirements, demands nothing, is merciful, kind, understanding, sacrifices for the other, and is the opposite of so much “love” seen everywhere today.

Do you really love whom you say you do?

Dating purgatory: You won’t always be in it, but it sure lasts long enough

So, as most dating stories start, you’re kind of interested in someone; they’re kind of interested in you. Some characteristics of theirs may be holding you back, or vise versa. After much ado (dull, aimless texting or Facebook chatting back and forth for weeks), you both finally decide to hang out. You may even get coffee. No food will touch your lips during these meet-ups because eating food together implies commitment, I guess.

Whether the “hangout” went well or not – “well” meaning whether it lived up to or exceeded your expectations (or lack thereof) – nothing seems to happen after said get-together. Heck, it was never even called a real date in the first place, which is usually a bad omen of confusing signals and horrendous communication to come.

A few days go by. Neither of you have texted each other because she’s hoping to be pursued and is waiting for him to “be a man” and text first, and he’s trying to “be a man” by coming off as slightly uninterested, trying not to expose weakness and want, or something to that effect. Both are playing the game of hard-to-get, in one knotty way or another.

Eventually, one of them will break down and text the other, a small explosion of half-cathartic, half-defeated emotions releasing throughout their body after hitting send. You proceed to analyze how long it took them to text you back.

At this point in your weird connection (I’m calling it a “connection” because you’re nothing, even though you’re something), it’s all about you. You don’t know them well enough to trust them at all with your emotional well-being, you’re trying to save your pride, and you know you’re in the midst of a game, like it or not.

Some people love these games. Others, like myself, much prefer telephone Pictionary and Zelda.

Unfortunately, even those who hate mind games, dating games – whatever you like to call them – can find themselves in similar situations.

I’ve dubbed this tumultuous state as “dating purgatory” (I purposely haven’t Googled this term, for fear that it already exists) because you’re stuck in the same place for quite some time, but you won’t be there forever. This semi-relationship of nothingness-but-somethingness will, at some point, either take a sharp turn for the worst or for the better.

Oftentimes, this annoying phase can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. But please, if it lasts longer than six months, just run away. Stop talking to them because even dating purgatory shouldn’t last longer than that. At the very least, have some sort of conversation on why the nothing-somethingness isn’t good enough for either of you, even if other prospects aren’t in sight for miles.

Yes, there are exceptions, but very few. If she lives half a world away and the timing just isn’t right, that’s one thing. It’s an entirely different story when he lives 10 minutes away and doesn’t hang out with you more than once every two months because he’s too busy doing nothing (there’s that word again), when, actually, he’s purposely spreading each meeting out because he doesn’t want the nothing-somethingness to appear as more of a somethingness than it really is.

It’s amazing how dramatic this state of being can feel – how much it beats down on your nerves. You’re not getting anywhere, and at the rate you’re going, a slug passed you on the road eight months ago and got married.

You wonder how you even got to this point in your life, accepting bits of attention from someone here and there, knowing it’s not a positive presence in your life, but wanting it, nevertheless. You may blame it on the fact that you’re romantically bored, which still seems like a seat in first class, compared to being truly desperate. You’re still picky, but you’re vulnerable and lonely. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have. You’re still a party of one. You only have your stuffed animals to cuddle with, and sometimes, you even pretend they’re eating the popcorn with you as they sit next to you on the couch (I hope someone does this, anyway. That would be really hilarious, however sad).

Dating sites embarrass you, and besides that, they tend to drip in creepiness, so you’re not ready for that. For some reason, you, in a way, settle for someone who strings you along. You know you’re in a long lull of excitement, so some something is better than much nothing, right? (Such something. Much nothing. Many hurts. Wow.)

Ultimately, what we all should ask ourselves in situations like these are the following questions:

  • How am I treating them?
  • How am I being treated?
  • Do I generally feel happy or sad, excited or stressed by my current situation?
  • Why are they stringing me along? (It’s one of the ultimate questions that you may or may not be able to answer, but ask it anyway.)
  • What’s the point of willingly going through all this, and are those points even worth my time and energy?
  • How is this situation psychologically messing up my feelings of worth, of being of value?
  • How is this situation messing up their feelings of self-worth and of feeling valued?
  • And, in my case, since I’m a Christian, “WWJD?” I lost my bracelet in eighth grade, but that is still the question I should be asking myself in every aspect of my day-to-day life. I’m really bad at resembling Christ, but I’m a work in progress.

Just for my sake, please let me know if you decide to lie on a chaise while asking yourself these questions. That would be so great.

Have you experienced dating purgatory? How did you resolve the situation, or did it just dissolve on its own, like so many of them do?

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My next post will be on why “value” and “worth” are two of the most important words in life, and why you should think about their meaning more than you do.

The great food philanderer: Finding love in the produce section

Some of the best rewards in life come after you’ve had to muddle through and conquer something, according to a fortune cookie message somewhere in aisle six of your local grocery store. This can be said about relationships, too.

It’s been a strained journey, but Healthy Food and I have grown a lot closer in recent years. It’s become my one and only – at least, that’s how I know it needs to be.

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve cheated various times with bits of Cheese (not to be confused with chèvre, goat cheese, which is acceptable), refined Sugar, and that great philanderer of all, Gluten (it also goes by other names, like Wheat, Barley, etc., the trickster. You’ve probably met it on the street corner, at a hotdog stand).

Let me start at the beginning, when Healthy Food and I first met. I’d always heard about it growing up. We even met on occasion, although I had a skewed view of it. From an early age, I associated it with those floozies, Whole Wheat, Whole Grains and Dairy. I always knew Sugar was not to be trusted, but I still kept it close to my side, like one of those good-for-nothing high school friends you hung out with because you didn’t have any better options, besides your inanimate stuffed animals.

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t realize what a poisonous, abusive relationship I had been in with Wheat. I stopped seeing it in November of 2011, vowing never to grant it admittance into my home or stomach again. I pined for it. I craved it. I NEEDED it. It was my addiction, or one of them. I recalled all the times I’d savored bread, muffins, cakes, coffeecakes, strudels, donuts, cookies, biscuits, sauces, gravies, crackers, breading and the like. They were all such good memories, though they were edged in poison, spreading through my body like an infection.

It wasn’t long after I broke up with Wheat that I had to break up with another love of mine, Dairy. I remember saying to myself months prior to dumping it, “Getting rid of Wheat is hard enough, but I’d die without Dairy. Thank goodness, I still have that.” Two breakups in less than five months was heart wrenching, and everything that had once seemed familiar to my taste buds was gone. I’d practically survived being a poor college student by eating cheap crackers, cereal and milk for every meal.

Like most breakups, I cried a lot, didn’t want to eat (because I didn’t know what I could eat) and felt like the world was out to get me. I couldn’t go anywhere without being constantly reminded of them. I went to the grocery store, and in every aisle, there they were. I went out to eat, and contained in every menu item, there they were. I’d go home or visit friends, and there they were, sitting on the counter or dinner table taunting me, reminding me of what I’d given up. My friends and family kept forgetting that I’d broken up with Wheat and Dairy, and when I’d have to remind them, they’d get a little embarrassed. They still had seemingly pleasant relationships with them, but I knew the ugly sides of Wheat and Dairy better than most. I’d seen them charm and ruin me.

I was in love, but I was hurt, time and time again. My body couldn’t take it. I was inflamed by the memory of its touch. (Literally. Gluten causes inflammation.)

Though I was still a bit hesitant, due to the skewed connotation of Healthy Food I’d had in the past, associating it with Wheat, Dairy and all, I decided to try to get to know it better. We went out on quite a few coffee dates. (“Straight-up black, please.”) It turns out that Healthy wasn’t related to those skanks very closely at all. Yeah, cousins, but I couldn’t put that past it. You can’t choose who you’re related to, after all.

Though we continue to have some misunderstandings, every week, we’re growing closer. We’re working through our problems. We’re learning more about each other as time goes on, and I can’t live without it. I wish I’d met Healthy years ago.

To end this confessional, I would like to let everyone know how completely sorry I am for my past food philandering. I didn’t know any better, most of the time, and if I could take it all back, I would. Turning from one’s old ways is difficult, but I now understand the importance of steering away from that SAD (standard American diet) house of sin.

P.S.
I can’t forget to add that Supplements, its best friend, is now one of my closest friends, as well. My life would be miserable without them.
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Excuse the corniness (another thing I shouldn’t eat) of this all. Earlier this week, one of my friends popped into my office to pay me a visit. We somehow got on the topic of how I turned down chocolate lasagna the week before, and how it wasn’t a counting-calories problem, but a food-allergy issue. As I spoke of how I feel when I have cheated in the past, we realized that it sounded like one of the messiest relationships possible – one even a dime novel or a soap opera would find extreme. He then encouraged me to write a column about my dysfunctional relationship to food, so here we sit, reading about my food philandering.